What is Distraction Burglary?
Distraction Burglary is a type of burglary whereby the ‘method of entry is by trick rather than the typical forced or sneak entry. There is no legal definition of distraction burglary.
The most common guise adopted is that of an official, i.e. employee of a utility company or as a council worker, police or other official. They also pose as canvassers or door-to-door sales people.
The offenders can be male or female and sometimes use children to distract the occupant whilst an accomplice carries out the offence.
Another method of ‘tricking’ older and vulnerable people is criminal deception. The offenders are often the same, but they claim to be trades people, offering repairs, services and maintenance to homes and gardens. They will often carry out inferior work (sometimes no work at all) and charge exorbitant fees. They place extreme pressure on vulnerable people to obtain money and sometimes accompany older people to banks and building societies to withdraw cash. They do not accept cheques as these can be traced.
What you can do
Who’s at the Door?
- Have a chain fitted to your front door and make sure it is in position before you open the door.
- It is a good idea to have a light fitted outside the front door so that you can see the callers at night.
- Door chains are available which can be morticed into the door making the fitting as strong as the door itself. These are automatic in operation so you don’t have to remember to put them on and are released at a press of a switch. Operation of this type of chain has considerable advantages for the elderly or very young, who may have difficulty with conventional fittings.
- A door viewer is useful, because you can see who is outside without opening the door. If you have one fitted, make sure that it is at a height, which is convenient for you.
- Think before you open the door. Put the chain on. Doors are never too thick to talk through – call out through the letter box.
- Check to see who they are - use the door viewer.
Ask if you don’t know them “who are you? What do you want?”.
- Ask to see their identity card – check carefully. Keep the chain on.
- Note the name, company and telephone number. If you are unsure, ask the caller to come back.
- Check them out by phoning their company. Arrange for a friend or relative to be present when they return.
- Remember if in doubt keep them out.
As many as two-thirds of all burglaries take place through windows, especially those at the back of the property on the ground floor. Shutting them helps but it isn’t enough. Often a burglar will break a small pane, and then reach in to open the catch.
So how can you make it more difficult?
Some Do’s and Don’ts
- Do lock all your doors and windows when you go out. Pay particular attention to the rear of your property.
- Do fit good quality rim and / or mortice locks to all your doors; use a ‘deadlock ‘ on the front door.
- Do keep your shed and / or garage locked. Your tools are useful to the thief who wants to gain entry.
- Do close the curtains and leave your light on in a room (not the hall) when you are out in the evening. Remember also to close the curtains when you are in, so that the burglar cannot see where you are.
- Do illuminate dark areas around your home. Remember burglars hate light.
- Do make sure you that your house and contents are insured.
- Do take photographs of all items of high value, record serial numbers of televisions, video recorders, cameras, etc. Have a ruler in shot so that the size can be gauged of the object.
- Don’t leave door keys in hiding places, such as under the doormat or in a flower pot. Thieves know all the hiding places.
- Don’t leave a window open a few inches for the cat to get in or out.
- Don’t leave ladders lying around. If you must keep them outside, padlock them to something secure so you are the only person who can use them.
- Don’t leave curtains and blinds drawn during the day time; they attract a thief.
- Don’t leave ‘back soon’ notes on display. Burglars love a written guarantee that the house is unoccupied.
- Don’t forget to mark your valuables with your postcode / house number and to display a sticker showing that you have done so. Marked property is less attractive to the thief and is harder to dispose of.
- Don’t leave keys in the lock on the inside of external glazed doors
- Most Burglaries happen when a house or flat is empty. Don’t advertise your absence when you are on holiday, or even out at work or shopping.
- Use time switches – available from DIY shops, to turn on lights, radios and other appliances when you are out. This will make it look as if your house is occupied.Do not let your TV or video show through a window.
- Get a friend or neighbour to look after your home when you are on holiday – to collect mail left in the letterbox, adjust the curtains, sweep up leaves and generally make the house look lived in.
- If you go away, remember to cancel the milk and newspapers.
For further advice on home security and crime prevention click on any of the following websites:
Always dial 999 in an emergency.
For free advice, or to report a non-emergency crime in Buckinghamshire,
Call 0845 8 505 505
Tel: 01895 837200